The Day We Almost Died. Seat Belts and Car Seats SAVE LIVES!

Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Family, Featured, Lifestyle | 45 comments

If I weren’t already a vocal car seat advocate, I am even more so now.  Car seats save lives.  I know, because Little One’s car seat saved her life.

It was a regular Saturday afternoon and the sun was shining.  Birds were chirping and all was right in the world. One would think that Spring had arrived (despite the mountains of snow and puddles of slush that remained).  I had Little One strapped into her car seat and we were happily chatting when I hit a patch of slush and hydroplaned.  I was driving the speed limit and didn’t think slush would be a problem, but we fish tailed all over the highway, went off the road, and flipped the van.  As my van rolled over, I thought, “Oh, God. This is  it. We’re going to die.”

slippery when wet

 

Image source found here.

When the vehicle stopped rolling, I opened my eyes and everything was still and quiet.  It was so peaceful.  I thought, “Holy sh*t! Are we dead??”

My main concern was for my daughter. It’s odd, but in those brief seconds of the world turning around on us, I thought, “Thank goodness she is in her 5-point harness! Thank goodness she’s still in a car seat and not in a booster!”

I remember the van swerving across the highway and off the road.  I remember closing my eyes as the van flipped over and landed on all four tires.  I remember turning around and asking my daughter if she was okay.  My tiny five year old was just sitting quietly in her car seat.

“Mama! Are you okay? Are you okay, Mama?!”, she asked.

Crazy how my five year old was the one asking me if I was okay.  I reached in my pocket for my cell phone and dialed 911.  Funny, usually I have my BlackBerry on the passenger seat, but stuck it in my pocket this time.  If my phone had been on the seat, I likely wouldn’t have been able to find it in the mess that was now my van.  So many objects had flown all over the place. I’m surprised Little One and I didn’t get hit in the head with a flying object.

I called 911.  I called Hubby. Hubby arrived, followed soon after by two fire trucks (firefighters/first responders).  Shortly after that, two police cruisers arrived.  Moments later, the paramedics showed up.

When Little One was being assessed, she was asked if she was okay and if she was scared.  Her response was, “It was COOL! I was hanging upside down like a bat!!!!”

Amazing how she walked away with no injuries.

I was shaken and didn’t feel any severe pain at first.  I refused to have a collar put on me and told the paramedics there was no need for them to take me to the hospital. It was only an hour or two after the accident that I started to experience pain.  A trip to the hospital and a few x-rays on my C7 vertebrae, shoulders and ribs, and I was prescribed pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds.

This was no doubt the scariest experience I have ever had.  I did take away a few lessons though…

Car Seats Save Lives

Little One is 5 years old, and we have been pressured by others telling us that “she should be in a booster by now” and “people will make fun of her because she is still in a car seat”. Being a firm believer in the idea that car seats save lives, I actually don’t care what other people think. The fact is that Little One is TOO SMALL to be in a booster. End of story.  She only weighs 33 lbs and does not meet the height or weight requirements for her to be moved into a booster.  “It’s not cool to be in a car seat”. You  know what’s not cool? Having to pick your child off of your dashboard or windshield.  Sorry to be graphic, but the reality is that if your kids aren’t strapped in properly, they can fly out of their seats! THAT is scary!  The fact that Little One was still in a car seat and still in a 5-point harness makes me feel so relieved.  I knew that her Britax Frontier XT was safe and had read numerous reviews and checked out ratings. I am so thankful that Little One was strapped into her Britax.  I am a huge fan of the 5 point harness even if she is five years old!

Watch out for Flying Objects

My friend, Wendy talks about car seat safety often and I love that she shares valuable information with her readers.  She is also a car seat technician and my “go-to” person when it comes to car seats and car seat safety. One particular post that stuck in my mind was the one where she mentioned how every day items in your vehicle can be flying items in a collision. Her post challenged readers to think carefully about what items we put in our vehicles and how they can potentially injure us in a collision.

Any loose objects could do harm.

We learned this from our recent accident.  I thought I had everything safely tucked away and out of harm’s way.  I had extra Winter coats, hats, mitts on the back seat. I also had a container of windshield washer fluid, a box of tissue, a few toys, books, crayons, snacks, water bottles and CDs in the van. Hubby had stored some tools “securely” in a spot where they couldn’t be budged.  However, in the process of the van flipping over, ALL loose items were displaced and I count my lucky stars that Little One (or I) didn’t get hit in the head with any of the objects.  The scary thing was that when the first response team came to assist us, they saw a heavy WRENCH right beside Little One’s car seat! Could you imagine if that hit her in the head?  I was so scared and felt so ill just thinking of the “what ifs”.

Exercise extra caution in the changing of seasons

Perhaps I had let my guard down and underestimated the dangers of the slushy roads.  With Winter finally feeling like it might soon be over, I was driving the speed limit.  The speed limit is 80 on our highway, but when the weather is bad, I drive way under the limit. The day of our accident was gorgeous out.  With the snow and ice turning to slush, I didn’t even think about how dangerous slush could be! Once I lost control of the vehicle, I couldn’t regain control or correct our course.

It makes sense, but many of us forget that the change of seasons means we need to change our driving habits.

  • The Fall season is a dangerous time for vehicle crashes with animals. The majority of car accidents  involve deer.
  • Mating time for deer and a time for animals to find food and shelter for the upcoming Winter means we need to slow down and stay alert whenever we’re on the road.
  • Slowing down and staying alert also helps us  avoid animals that seem to appear out of nowhere (yes, sometimes even during daylight hours).
  • Early morning and late afternoon glare can play optical tricks even on the most careful drivers. The  worst time for this is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.  I experience this often when driving on the Island. You can literally be blinded by the sun. What should you do? Slow down and increase your following distance; keep your windshield clean and the washer fluid reservoir full.  Also, having  your headlights on helps make your vehicle more visible to others.
  • Slippery when wet!  Great album by Bon Jovi, but also true when driving!  Intense rain storms and slippery road conditions can happen quickly in the Spring and early Fall. The first few minutes
    of rainfall on dry pavement are particularly dangerous.
  • Oil, dust, dirt and other debris collect on the roadways and, when mixed with moisture, the roads can become as slick as ice. Heavy rains create
    pools of water, compromising driving control and causing hydroplaning and loss of clear vision. Check your wipers before encountering heavy rains; know
    which areas along your trip might be affected by rain; be cautious when driving into standing water, especially when the depth is difficult to determine; be aware of the change in braking efficiency after driving through standing water; and increase your following distance and decrease your speed.

Another thing to remember if you’ve been in an auto accident is that car seats need to be replaced if you’ve had a car crash.

I know that I need to get behind the wheel again soon (as soon as we get a new vehicle and a new car seat for Little One), but 1) I’m still in shock and in pain from the accident and 2) I kind of have a phobia of driving in poor road conditions now.  The thought of anything happening to my sweet Little One is too much to bear.  What a scary experience.

Incredible how a near death experience can make you re-evaluate everything in your life and think about what matters the most to you.  I’ll be giving my Little One extra hugs and kisses today and every day.

Now we’re on the on the hunt for a new vehicle and need to get Little One a new car seat. I’m definitely getting her another Britax.  I think we’ll be getting her a Britax CT.

Any recommendations on a good family vehicle? It needs to be something spacious, a bit high off the ground (Little One and I both get car sick in low vehicles), and it has to be something good on mileage.

car seats save lives collage

I don’t want to sound like an after school special, but car seats save lives.  They really do.

XOXO, Christine



45 Comments

  1. So glad you are both okay. My kids are both in car seats until they are around 7,well past the minimum age and weight (which they also do not reach until well into their 5th year…Lotte is 5 and not yet 40lbs), because they have car-seats that accommodate it, and I can! So much safer, and I too hear all the messages you do from friends and family!

    Your post is an important reminder…nobody expects to get into a collision, so we have to protect our kids and ourselves as if we might every single time we get in the car…whether it is for a 5000 km trip or a 5km trip.

    After my car was totaled in the summer of 2012, I started having significant driving anxiety. I am “over” it now, with some work. If you have similar issues (and I hope you don’t) please feel free to get in touch with me.

    • LovesToFly, thank you so much for your comment. It really is hard to get back behind the wheel after something so traumatic happens. I may just end up emailing you :) Thanks again!

      • Sorry to hear about your accident in 2012. I’m so glad you were okay! Were the kids with you when it happened?

  2. I am glad you are both okay. I saw this from Britax’s Facebook post. I noticed no one said anything about a car to replace your van. I have a 2011 Subaru Outback and am glad that I have this car with our own Little One on the way. I was rear-ended last year and happy with how the car handled it. I also get good gas mileage (4 cylinder CVT transmission).

    • Sharon, thanks so much for popping by and leaving a comment! Yes, after our accident, I think I’m going for another type of vehicle. I’ve got a phobia of vans now. That’s just me though. I need to get over that fear.

      I’m so glad you came out of your accident okay! Yes, another good point about good gas mileage too! Something we are considering for the next vehicle.

  3. Oh my word how scary :( .. I’m so glad you all are ok. I don’t think people realize how important it is to wear your seatbelt AND STRAP YOUR CHILD IN.. no matter how far you are going!

    • Thanks, Darlene! So true! This happened not even 10 minutes away from home! :(

  4. Again so Happy you are safe. This gave me goosebumps and Flashbacks to 9 years ago with my 2 boys. Goosebumps. Thanks God for Car seats and Miracles for sure. Scary Stuff

    • Thank you, Jen! (HUGS) Oh, so sorry to hear about your accident 9 years ago! So glad you and your boys made it out safely! Yes! Miraculous indeed! xoxo

  5. Thank goodness you were both belted in and that there was no oncoming traffic! It could have been a very different story. :(

    I am SO with you on the five point harness and booster seat. You have to know your child’s needs!

    Thing 2 went from a Britax Marathon to a Britax booster with a nice little “extra” strap to prevent “submarining” in the case of an accident. But both kids were in 5 point carseats until they met the requirements for moving on. Age is not enough of a marker. Not even close!

    I am so glad you listen to your own voice to make the right choice!

    Here’s to a speedy recovery!

    • Thanks so much, Peady!! So true! Age is not even close to being a marker for when to switch over from car seat to booster.

      I have friends who think I’m too cautious in keeping LO in a 5 point harness, but thank goodness I did! This accident only proves how right that decision was.

  6. C – We are so glad and thankful that you and LO are okay! When Bert told me about the accident (he saw via your mom’s facebook), my heart dropped and I feared the worst. I was so relieved to hear that your daughter wasn’t injured (yes, I agree with you about the 5 point harness carseat – so valuable) and that you have your life, even with a few injuries. Better than than being dead.

    Although the van was totaled, the important thing is that you two are alive! Please take care and give a big hug to LO for us.

    • Canine: Thanks so much. Definitely the scariest experience I’ve ever had. Amazing how Little One doesn’t seem to be affected. She went to school today and didn’t even mention the accident to anyone. Weird! You’re so right about the important thing being that we’re both still alive. Hugs back at ya! xoxo

  7. So freaking scary! Thank you for writing this. My guy is starting to angle for getting out of his booster (he’s 8) but I’m firm until the belt lies properly without it. You just don’t know what might happen!!

    I was a back seat passenger in a hydroplaning accident in my 20s. We spun and spun at high speed and slammed into a ditch against a rock wall. Thankfully we were all ok, other than whiplash and general body pain. But I got hit with a watch. Yep. Whatever happened, the guy in the front passenger seat had his watch fly off in the crash and hit me. Big bruise, nothing more, but it really brought it home how dangerous loose objects can be.

    Also, I love how resilient kids are. “I was hanging upside down like a bat!!!” Focus on the cool, baby :) I am beyond happy that you are both ok. xoxo

    • Wow, Deb! I’m so glad you made it out of that accident in one piece too! That is scary! At this point, I’m still a bit scared to get into a vehicle. I know I need to get behind the wheel again soon, but so terrified!! I feel an anxiety attack coming on!

  8. Thank goodness you two are alright!

    My 6 & 1/2 yr old is still in a 5 point harness and I have been putting it off. She has finally reached 40 lbs (then she was sick for a week so who knows now) and isn’t the height yet. close but not. I feel so much safer with her in the 5 point. My son would still be if he wasn’t so tall and now 55lbs. He will be 8.

    Thanks also for the reminder to clean my van out.

    • I’m with you, Jenn! Little One will definitely be in her 5 point harness for as long as possible. I just feel so much safer. After seeing the damage from the vehicle rolling over and seeing that Little One was safely strapped into her car seat, I feel so much safer! Gosh…if she were in a booster, I don’t think she’d have been as lucky.

      P.S. Yes! Great reminder for us all to clean our vans out, eh? Wow. Just wow.

  9. Oh my goodness Christine, I’m so glad that you and your daughter are okay. Having been in numerous accidents, it is important to go to the hospital because pain usually does not set in right away due to the shock of all of it. Again, I am very happy the two of you are fine.

    • Thanks so much, AlwaysARedhead. You’re right about going to the hospital after an accident. I know that now :( Amazing what the body can go through and how the brain and body go into fight or flight when you’ve experienced something like this. Now that the adrenaline is gone, I have been able to process what happened and boy, was it scary!

  10. I sent my husband out to by a booster seat a while back. He came back with one of those little boosters with no back. I ordered a booster with a full back and five-point harness almost right away. We drove a little bit with that booster but it was not safe at all. My husband still thinks that I’m being overly cautious but life can change in a matter of seconds and not using a 5-point harness for as long as he fits is an unacceptable risk. There are so many things out of our control on the road, but using a proper car seat is something that we can do.

    • Christina: Absolutely! SO true!!!

  11. Reading this brings tears to my eyes…thank you for sharing. Everyone needs to share your story..this will save lives! Big hugs for you and Little One and so glad you are okay!

    • Marisa: Thank you so much! So important for parents to remember how car seats and seat belts save lives and how loose objects in vehicles can be flying objects in a collision. Scary stuff!

  12. Britain carseats (most anyways) are rated to 65lbs or more for a reason!! Just because you CAN put your child in a booster at 40lbs doesn’t mean you have to! My girls will be in their frontiers (and marathons) for quite some time still! :D
    Take some time to rest, and lots of cuddles!!

    • Lol. That should say Britax! Darn autocorrect!

      • LOL! Funny, I knew you meant Britax and not Britain! ;) Gotta love autocorrect! Yes, you are SO right! Just because you CAN put them in boosters at 40 lbs doesn’t mean you SHOULD! LO is going to be in her Britax forever! LOL! Okay, maybe not forever, but for a while yet! :)

  13. So glad you both are OK! I JUST switched my 5 year old (almost 6) to a full booster. Sending healing vibes and hugs your way!

  14. Oh that made me cry too :( your daughter is such a sweetie, I am very happy to read you are both ok (well, not physically hurt)!

    • Thanks, Amy! Ahhh!! Going to cry again.

  15. Thanks for sharing your story, Christine. I’m sure it wasn’t easy in your still-shaken-up state, but it’s so important to get the word out there about car seat safety, so kudos to you my friend. :)

    I completely agree about your statements re: booster seats and 5 point harness seats. My daughter is 7 years old and almost 60 pounds. She is still in her Britax Frontier XT 5-point harness. Yes, it converts to a full-back booster (which, IMHO, is much safer than a regular booster), BUT she has 5 pounds to go before she reaches the harness limit, so she’s staying in it until then. I get the same comments as you, “she is a big girl; she could be in a regular booster”. Yes, she *could*, but I won’t risk it. For the same reasons, both my kids were kept rear-facing until they were almost 2.5 years old, and I fielded a ton of questions from people wondering why they weren’t turned sooner. You are a wonderful Mama and it’s your conscientiousness about car seat safety that probably saved your child’s life. I’m so happy you are both safe and sound. Feel better soon and remember to take it easy!

    • Thank you, Lisa! I’m totally with you on keeping kids in their car seats/5 point harness for as long as possible. I also kept Little One rear-facing until she was a bit over 2 years old. People again gave me flack for keeping her rear-facing with comments like “She’s big enough to be front facing”, “You’re so paranoid”, and “She’ll get car sick if she’s facing backwards” or “I had to make my baby front-facing because he/she would freak if they didn’t see me” or “they want to be front-facing so they can see what we see/they have nothing to look at if they are rear-facing”.

      I kept her rear facing anyway. LOL! For me, it was always safety first and foremost.

  16. wow what a scary moment!! I love how incredibly resilient kids are … hanging like a bat – that is priceless!
    Thank goodness for seat belts and car seats, they keep us so protected.

    • Angie, so true! Kids are really resilient. Oh, and the hanging like a bat comment just made me laugh! I couldn’t believe she was telling the paramedics that after the accident!

  17. So sorry you had to go through this!! Glad to hear you are both okay and hope that your pain subsides quickly. Xoxox. Melissa & team

    • Thanks so much for thinking of us, Melissa! Definitely the scariest experience ever.

  18. So sorry you had to go through this!! Glad to hear you are both okay and hope that your pain subsides quickly. Xoxox. Melissa & team

  19. So scary, Christine! I’m so glad both of you are ok.

    You have shared some excellent reminders here for us all!

    xo

    • MultiTestingMom: It’s crazy. I’ve seen people with kids running around in their vehicles with no seat belts and not strapped into car seats or boosters. That freaks me out. Thankfully, LO has never complained about being in a car seat and understands that it’s for safety. She now REALLY knows why we strap her in all the time!

  20. Now I’m crying! I’m so glad that you are both okay. I’m sure it was a terrifying experience and I think it’s perfectly normal for you to be scared of getting behind the wheel again right now – I would be too. I’m so cautious about our car seat too and I get upset if I see my husband rushing through putting my son in it. It only takes a few extra seconds to do all the checks to make sure they are properly secured and it could save their life. I’m so glad that you’re okay and able to share your story as a reminder to us all.

    • Thank you, Cheryl! I’m crying too! I’m only now just realizing how close a call that was. We could have died. So thankful to be alive.

      I hear you on the car seat/seat belt thing! It only takes a few extra seconds. It is NOT an inconvenience. Parents really need to remember that this is for their kids’ safety. I’ve seen people not buckle their kids in or not use car seats when car seats are still required for their children’s weight/height. I don’t even want to think about what could happen.

  21. I’m sad that you had the opportunity to write this post, but it really is an excellent one. Car seat and car safety is so important. It’s funny what sticks with you, because ever since Wendy posted about those winter brushes becoming projectiles I have been more cautious about what is out in the open in my car. I am SO very glad you are both ok.

    As for cars. I don’t know if a mini van is something you are interested in, but I love my Toyota Sienna.

    • Julia, so true. The first responders found a WRENCH next to LO’s car seat! Can you imagine if it hit her in the head?? I don’t want to think about the “what ifs”. So scary.

      I’ve heard from friends how much they love their Toyota Siennas. Is it weird that I’m scared to get another van? Actually, I’m scared to drive again…though I know I need to “get back on that horse” and drive again asap. Yikes. Panic attack coming on…

  22. I am so glad that you and RA are okay Christine!!! Been driving around the Island lately in all this snow and slush and I can easily see how it happened. But hopefully that will be the end of the snow for awhile. Stay safe!

    • Lisabeth, I was thinking “How am I going to get the TOFFLES from Lisabeth now?!” I know…priorities, right?

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